With President Evo Morales set to win another election in Bolivia this month given that his nearest rival is trailing by such a large margin (46 percentage points according to one latest poll), most eyes in the region have turned towards Brazil. After a series of protests over poor public services in transport and health care, while the state spent some $US15 billion to host the World Cup with an estimated 200,000 people being evicted to make way for construction projects, President Dilma Rousseff from the Workers Party (PT) has come under much criticism. Add to this the fact that the PT has been in power since 2003 and it is understandable that support for the incumbent government has waned, despite the fact that it has reduced poverty in half (from 9.7% to 4.3%) according to the World Bank earlier this year.
Based on these developments, Marina Silva from the Socialist Party has been polling well hence receiving an endorsement from Roger Noriega, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) and assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the administration of George W. Bush (2001-2005). For those unfamiliar with Noriega, this is the man who co-authored the 1996 Helms-Burton Law that tightened the embargo on Cuba, in 2002 supported the short lived coup against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and, two years later in 2004, played a significant role in the overthrow of Haiti’s democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In his open-editorial for the Miami Herald, Noriega on the Brazilian elections wrote that:
If Silva were to win a surprise victory, she would have a mandate to liberalize the Brazilian economy, expand trade with the United States and Europe, and reform traditional politics. Last year, south Florida did over $20 billion in two-way trade with Brazil — a number that will likely increase if that South American giant can pull itself out of recession.
The election in Brazil has become a choice between “more of the same” and a spirited challenge of “politics as usual.” Marina Silva has only a few more weeks to convince 140 million Brazilian voters that she can renew growth, unlock the country’s productivity and wealth, and clean up corruption and mismanagement.
Obviously Noriega is unaware how much his past contributions to democracy have been noted and unappreciated in Latin America and the Caribbean. An endorsement from him for a socialist candidate in Brazil speaks more on how Silva does not best represent the interests of common Brazilians. In contrast, the PT, with all its errors taken into account, has supported national industries, endorsed a more independent Latin American foreign policy and economic union, and as noted above, has reduced poverty in half. Such policies will never be supported by the most reactionary sectors of the U.S. of which Noriega represents hence, if a right-wing socialist candidate needs to be supported so as to overturn many of the PT’s achievements, then so be it. Pigs can fly.